I wish I knew, for I am, and long have been, a free spirit myself. Sad to relate, being an individualist, gaining the label ‘eccentric’, behaving and thinking outside the rigid and confining box of societal expectations have all come to be associated with madness, misfits, nutters.
It really does seem sometimes as if there is only the one narrow path for humans to walk down: A path which has sign posts (in tasteful and conventional colours/designs) every few yards, instructing the traveller on the correct way of walking, dressing, thinking, talking…
We call others mad when they stride off the path or opt for another one entirely. We nudge one another and whisper, ‘Bonkers!’ when someone is seen dressed in a colourful, unusual way. We screw our forefingers into the sides of our heads (in the ancient symbol for Round the Twist) at those who dance under Full Moons or seek, through ritual, to attune with, and celebrate, the phases of Sun, or Moon, or the seasons, or do anything we are too scared and inhibited to do ourselves.
We use the phrase ‘You/he/she must be mad to…’ so glibly, and so utterly without thought, that it and its fellow phrases have become almost synonymous with, ‘I don’t like the way you live your life…’
Wear electric pink DMS at the age of fifty-eight? Loony-tunes!
Write openly about sex, feelings, cruelty, being a member of an SOL Lodge? Clearly crazed!
Go out at night in search of a Full Moon, musical gig, or early in the morning to a Festival? Barking mad!
It is so tragic. This kind of thinking, I mean. We only pass this way once (though we pass other ways often) – and yet we limit our precious life experiences because we are so afraid of being seen as weird, gaga, cuckoo, moon-calves. So we spend pointless years adopting convention’s tightest corset, and sexuality’s self-imposed Chastity Belt in order not to be pointed at, threatened with Sectioning, labelled as well on the way to Dagenham.
Free spirits should be applauded and welcomed. They have much to offer to the world. We are so afraid of them, I think, because they soar and fly to places we would, secretly, love to visit. I think our condemnation is, in part at least, deep envy. But also we fear them because we have all been brought up with the spectres of gibbering insanity held before us – and we have come to equate those who choose to be wild of spirit with those poor unfortunates who have genuinely lost the ability to work the mind in a healthy way.
How is it that we have come to equate expressing oneself in an individual way with lunacy? Because we do not like anything that is different – and because, in too many cases, we are afraid of the insanity which might, just might, be lurking within our own genetic make-up, and projecting that crazy gene onto colourful others reassures us that we are normal!
Eccentricity and freedom of spirit are both conscious life choices. Insanity is outside the poor afflicted one’s control. I think it would do the world as a whole good to remember that important distinction and stop tarring those who are different with the brush of an illness people do not choose to have.
Insanity is NOT freedom of spirit, especially for those poor souls who have to be Sectioned for their own or other people’s safety – and living a life in tune with one’s own spirit and personality does NOT indicate that the men with the white coats and padded cells should be on permanent stand-by!
So, shiver with fear when you see me and my ilk, if you wish! I’d rather shiver with ecstasy, and wild wind, and the Moon’s sexy pull myself!